Tadious Manyepo in CAPE TOWN, South Africa
GEMS Goal Shooter/Attack Joyce Takaidza has endured nasty injuries in her illustrious netball career.
She has had three surgeries on her knee and ankles.
And at one point, three years ago, she wanted to call time on the sport that she has played for more than two decades.
But her husband Admire Takaidza (46) whom she met right in her netball trenches 20 years ago has been pushing her on.
The Australia-based couple first met in Gaths Mine in 2003 when Admire was a trainee graduate while Joyce was playing netball for the mine team.
They clicked and eventually married. They had the first of their three children in 2004.
With Joyce contemplating quitting netball, Admire has faced too many difficult questions from his relatives and friends alike.
They can’t understand why his wife is still playing netball.
“My wife’s netball career spans for decades but once I married her, my relatives wanted me to force her to retire.
“They have their reasons, maybe because sport is associated with loose morals, so they say,” said Admire.
“But I know how I met my wife. I know the passion that she has for this sport.
“I truly love her and to show that, I told myself that I would support her dreams.
“Imagine in 2004, she was playing league netball while she was pregnant, which was the same thing in 2015.
“And during the Africa Championships in 2010, she got injured and had to undergo three operations on her ankles and knee.
“She said she wanted to retire from the game but as we were talking during her recovery, which was largely helped by the freeze of sport during the Covid-19 period, she would speak heartily of her love for this game.
“I told her that she would not retire as she stood a chance of making a comeback.”
Joyce has since bounced back into the game and has played some key roles in the Gems’ bid to finish 13th at the Netball World Cup underway at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa.
Admire flew from Australia together with the couple’s seven-year-old daughter Tafadzwa, to cheer the Gems.
“It’s like netball is part of our family. We know Joyce derives a lot of joy through playing netball.
“We make it a point that we attend all the matches she plays as long as time permits us.
“I have had to take some days off from my employers to come and support her and the team here.
“My other children Takunda (boy) and Tatenda (girl) have other commitments back in Australia but they would have come with us to support the team”.
Joyce, who plays for Horn Ridge Netball Club in Australia said she could have quit netball a long time ago had it not been for her husband.
“I love netball and I always prayed to get married to someone who would support my passion.
“I got exactly that and he is the one who can even volunteer to stay back with the children while I travel for netball,” she said.
“Several times when push comes to shove, he encourages me never to quit. I am very happy he came down her to cheer the team”.